Book Summary of Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is a guide to negotiation theory and strategy that focuses on the importance of emotional intelligence. Voss argues that successful negotiation requires understanding and empathizing with the emotions of the other party in order to build trust and get them to let their guard down.

The Emotional Basis of Negotiation

Voss claims that understanding and addressing the emotional needs of feeling secure and in control is key to successful negotiations. By navigating these emotional truths, negotiators can uncover their counterpart’s real desires and fears.

Calculated Empathy: Make Them Feel Safe

Voss recommends using calculated empathy to understand your counterpart’s feelings and gain insight into their behavior. By doing so, you can create a sense of emotional safety, which is crucial to establishing a partnership rather than an adversarial relationship.

Voss shares five calculated empathy techniques: active listening, using the right tone, reflecting back, labeling emotions, and accusation audits. 

These techniques aim to build rapport with the other person by showing concern for their feelings, reflecting their speech patterns, and identifying and vocalizing their emotions. The use of accusation audits can trigger empathy in the other person by listing negative things they may think about you, making them want to reassure you that you’re not as bad as you’ve portrayed yourself. 

However, it’s important not to misuse this technique by deliberately mislabeling someone else’s perceptions of you.

Put Them in the Driver’s Seat

Voss suggests that apart from using calculated empathy to make your counterpart feel heard and secure, you also need to empower them by giving them control and autonomy in the situation. Essentially, you need to let them take the lead.

Open-Ended Questions

Voss suggests using open-ended “how” or “what” questions to give your counterpart a sense of control and autonomy. For instance, when faced with an unfavorable offer, asking “How am I supposed to do that?” prompts the other person to provide solutions to the problem. This approach puts your counterpart to work and can lead to more favorable outcomes in negotiations.

Getting the Right Responses

Voss suggests that after showing calculated empathy and putting your counterpart at ease, it’s important to elicit the proper responses from them. “Yes” is often seen as the fool’s gold of negotiation as it can be a false agreement used to end a conversation with someone being too aggressive. This results from our natural tendency to desire others to reciprocate, which causes us to comply with their wishes. In contrast, “No” is a powerful response that can lead to more productive negotiations as it helps clarify issues and can provide an opportunity to explore alternative solutions.

According to Voss, to get a genuine commitment from your counterpart during negotiations, you need to get them to say “no” rather than a false “yes.” Saying “no” gives them a sense of control and independence. Voss suggests asking questions that prompt negative answers to get to “no.” One approach to accomplish this is to purposefully name their feelings or desires incorrectly, which will make them correct you. Another strategy is to probe into their dislikes and give them the flexibility to define their boundaries and comfort zones.

“That’s Right”: Getting Affirmation From Your Counterpart

To summarize, after establishing trust with your counterpart, Voss suggests getting them to say “no” in order to get a real commitment, as it makes them feel in control. Once you have achieved this, you can move on to bringing them around to your perspective. When your counterpart says “that’s right,” it means they have come to embrace your position, and you can now use it to persuade them to your preferred course of action. Voss recommends summarizing their story in your own words to demonstrate that you understand their perspective and earn their respect.

Change Their Perspective

Voss says successful negotiations require understanding that people’s emotions drive their behavior and thoughts. To gain an advantage, you need to appeal to their need for security and autonomy. To do this, you must show them how helping you can satisfy their own desires.

Making Deadlines Work

Voss cautions that counterparts may exploit anxiety by using deadlines to pressure you into making a deal, but he says deadlines are often flexible and don’t have the dire consequences we fear. By not negotiating against yourself, you can use the deadline to your advantage and force your counterpart to accommodate your timeline.

Understand Cognitive Biases

Voss advises utilizing cognitive biases that shape our decision-making process. He focuses on the framing effect, which highlights how people react differently to identical choices based on presentation. For instance, marketing milk as “99% fat-free” rather than “1% fat” would likely appeal more to health-conscious consumers.

Ensure Implementation

Getting your counterpart to agree to your terms is just the beginning. The challenge now is how to ensure they follow through. To do this, you must secure their commitment and ensure implementation.

Use Open-Ended Questions to Give Your Counterpart Skin in the Game

Voss suggests using open-ended questions to keep your counterpart engaged and off-balance while also making them consider your position. This is important for ensuring implementation. Questions like “How can we make sure we follow through on what we’ve agreed on?” turn your counterpart into a partner in solving the problem.

Watch the Pronouns

Voss advises paying attention to your counterpart’s language and speech patterns to determine if they are truly involved in the decision-making process. A key indicator is their use of pronouns. The person in charge will typically use third-party pronouns like “we” instead of “I” or “me,” such as saying “We need to review internally before committing” instead of “I need to review internally.”

Spotting a Liar

When dealing with a deceitful counterpart, Voss warns that they may use complex sentences to distract you from their dishonesty. They also tend to use third-person pronouns instead of “I” or “me” to distance themselves from the lie psychologically.

How to Bargain

Voss asserts that negotiation involves more than offers and counteroffers and is influenced by both parties’ underlying goals and concerns. A successful negotiator must create an accurate psychological profile of their counterpart to better understand what they truly want.

The Three Types of Negotiator

Voss categorizes negotiators into three types: 

Givers, who are people-pleasers and poor time managers; Calculators, who are methodical and diligent, and less likely to be pressured by time constraints; and Aggressives, who are highly achievement-oriented, hate wasted time, and care deeply about meeting or beating deadlines.

Know Your Moves (and Your Counterpart’s)

Voss advises being well-prepared before a negotiation, regardless of the type of negotiator you’re dealing with. This means having a plan for open-ended questions, reflection, and labeling. When dealing with an experienced negotiator, there are also precise dodge-and-counterpunch techniques you might employ. You can utilize avoidance strategies like asking non-financial queries or switching to non-price terminology to block your rival’s “punches”.

Unknown Unknowns

Voss emphasizes the importance of having information in negotiations. According to him, negotiations are fundamentally about gathering information. However, some information is harder to get than others. Voss refers to the hidden pieces of information that can significantly change the outcome of a negotiation as “Black Swans.”

Unknown Unknowns: Black Swans

Voss emphasizes the significance of unknown unknowns, or the Black Swans, in negotiations. These are the pieces of information that are unknown to us, but once discovered, can significantly impact the negotiation. For example, learning that the seller of a house is under financial pressure can give you leverage to negotiate a heavily discounted offer. To find your counterpart’s Black Swan, Voss recommends getting face-time to pick up verbal and body language cues, as too much is lost through impersonal media like email.

Speaking Your Counterpart’s Language

Voss believes that Black Swans not only reveal critical information but also help us understand our counterpart’s worldview. By comprehending their perspective, we can communicate more effectively and avoid misinterpreting their actions as irrational.

Book Summary of Principles Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Although coming from a middle-class Long Island area, he started trading stocks at the age of 12 and launched Bridgewater out of his New York apartment in 1975.

He was initially successful, but in 1982 he lost everything due to incorrect market projections, which taught him important lessons about risk leadership and financial history. Dalio developed a set of principles for living and achieving success, which he shares in his book, Principles.

What Are Principles?

According to Dalio, facing new situations every day can be exhausting if you have to decide what to do at each point in time. To make decision-making more efficient, he suggests systematizing it by creating principles – fundamental truths that determine how you behave.

Through his early blunders, Dalio discovered that he made the finest choices when he set aside his ego and persistently pursued the truth. His principles revolve around understanding the importance of finding the truth and how to achieve it over common obstacles. This article will explore his eight main principles and how to put them into practice, as well as his process for achieving goals.

Principle #1: Relentless Truth-Seeking

When facing challenges, Dalio advises against wishing for a different reality, as this can hinder objectivity. Instead, he suggests embracing the current situation and being open to the possibility of being wrong. Dalio identifies two common obstacles to recognizing reality:

1) Your Ego 

Ego is your desire to be capable, loved, and praised. Threats to your ego can lead to denial or emotionally-driven reactions. To prevent this, Dalio uses a formula: Pain + Reflection = Progress. Take responsibility for mistakes and use them as a chance to improve.

2) Your Blind Spots

Blind spots occur when you view the world with bias, making it difficult to see things objectively. Different perspectives can cause arguments over who’s right. To overcome this, Dalio suggests being “radically open-minded,” which we’ll explore further.

Principle #2: Total Receptivity

To be totally receptive means acknowledging the possibility of being wrong and continuously seeking ways to improve. Dalio recommends three steps:

  1. Search for the best answer by being open to others’ viewpoints and considering all possibilities.
  2. Recognize your blind spots and remain open to different perspectives.
  3. Strike a balance between humility and reasoning, as being overly confident or ignorant can hinder progress.

Principle #3: Extreme Honesty and Transparency

Dalio believes that the best decision-making involves being receptive, honest, and transparent. He created a culture at Bridgewater that prioritizes objective truth over protecting egos and emotions.

Extreme Honesty

Dalio believes in extreme honesty, which involves expressing your thoughts without any filter, questioning them relentlessly, and bringing up issues immediately instead of concealing them. At Bridgewater, this culture is embedded, where everyone has the privilege and duty to speak up publicly, even to call out foolish actions of anyone, including Dalio himself.

Extreme Transparency

Dalio emphasizes that extreme transparency involves giving everyone in an organization access to the full truthful information, without filtering it through others. This approach empowers people to make better decisions and enables the organization to leverage the full potential of its people.

Principle #4: Productive Conflict and Letting the Best Ideas Win, Whatever the Source

Dalio believes in “thoughtful disagreement” and “idea meritocracy” which are essential for productive conflict and creating an environment where the best ideas, regardless of their source, can be implemented to make better decisions.

Productive Conflict

Productive conflict entails considering other perspectives and steering a discussion towards a constructive outcome. The objective is not to assert your correctness, but to uncover the right view and determine the necessary course of action. This necessitates a blend of openness and assertiveness: strive to understand the other person’s viewpoint while clearly articulating your own.

Letting the Best Ideas Win, Whatever the Source

Dalio proposes credibility-centered decision making, where the opinions of people who are more credible in a certain area are given more weight, unlike democracy where everyone’s votes are weighed equally. This, coupled with productive conflict, leads to an environment where the best ideas win, resulting in better solutions and decisions than relying on just one person’s ideas or orders.

Principle #5: Visualizing Complex Systems as Machines

Dalio recommends a machine-like approach to decision-making, where complex systems are analyzed as cause-and-effect relationships, and predictable patterns are identified. This helps determine repeatable courses of action. He applies this thinking on three levels:


View yourself as a machine that can be optimized to achieve your goals. Identify weaknesses or problems and address them, similar to fixing a machine.


Dalio’s approach to the market involves viewing it as a network of cause-and-effect relationships, allowing him to identify repeatable trading rules and find solutions quickly.


To optimize your organization, Dalio suggests viewing it as a machine and establishing an efficient structure with clear roles and responsibilities. People are an integral part of this machine, and managers should act as engineers to build and maintain the best team with complementary strengths.

Principle #6: People Management

Dalio regards people as vital to the organizational machine but managing them can be challenging due to individual differences. He recommends adopting a curious attitude to understand people’s perspectives and strengths, including one’s own.

This insight can help build a team with complementary skills. Bridgewater employs personality assessments to create a comprehensive profile of each team member.

Dalio provides principles for hiring, training, and evaluating people to ensure a good fit:


Dalio’s principles for hiring, training, and evaluating people involve determining your needs, systematizing the interview process, paying north of fair, and hiring people who have great character and capabilities.

He recommends creating a mental image of the values, abilities, and skills required for the job, systematizing the interview process with a set list of questions and saving candidates’ answers for later evaluation, paying enough to meet needs but not too much to encourage complacency, and hiring individuals with both great character and capabilities.

Training and Evaluating

According to Dalio, the training process is key to determining if a new hire is a good fit. To appropriately assess their strengths and limitations, he suggests the following rules:

  1. Set clear expectations..
  2. Give regular feedback and practice extreme honesty.
  3. Hold all employees to the same standards and be fair.
  4. Check behavior, audit or investigate people, and deter bad behavior.
  5. If a person fails, understand why, and make sure it won’t happen again.
  6. If a new hire fails due to a lack of values or abilities, it’s best to let them go. Keeping them is toxic to the organization and holds them back from personal growth.

Principle #7: Creating Effective Teams

To ensure team members work well together, Dalio recommends the following: prioritize resolving important disagreements, standardize meeting agendas, and cultivate meaningful relationships with team members. While disagreements are natural, addressing the most important ones first saves time.

Clear agendas and limited participation help make meetings more efficient. Finally, building relationships based on partnership and excellence is crucial, and team members who don’t perform should be let go.

Principle #8: Effective Decision-Making

By following the principles mentioned earlier, you can make better decisions consistently. Despite the unique aspects of each situation, Dalio suggests that decision-making involves only two main steps:

1) Learn Well

To make informed decisions, it’s crucial to gather information from credible sources and understand the context of the situation. By comparing the information against your desired trajectory, you can evaluate your progress. It’s also important to consider how the information is interconnected by a greater logic.

2) Decide Well

Dalio suggests systematizing decision-making to avoid being influenced by emotions. This involves using timeless and universal principles to make decisions in similar situations. Ideally, these principles can be turned into algorithms, allowing for computer assistance in the decision-making process.

  1. Consider second- and third-order consequences. Don’t let short-term consequences derail your real goals.
  2. Dalio advises making expected value calculations when considering options. This involves assessing all options and selecting the one with the highest expected value, despite any drawbacks. It’s crucial to understand the probability of being right and ensure that the risks won’t lead to failure.
  3. Resolve conflicts effectively and avoid getting stuck in endless debates.

Dalio’s Methodology for Success

Five phases make up Dalio’s method for success in any situation:

1) Clarify Your Goals

Having a clear goal helps you stay focused and avoid aimless wandering. According to Dalio, money should not be your ultimate goal as it only provides basic necessities and doesn’t significantly enhance your life. Instead, identify your non-monetary goals and work backwards to set specific monetary goals that will help you achieve them. It’s best to focus on a few goals at a time to avoid spreading your attention too thin and hindering your progress.

2) Recognize Problems and Don’t Condone Them

Problems can hinder your goal attainment. According to Dalio, recognizing problems requires overcoming ego, self-examination, and objective assessment of weaknesses. To fix identified problems, it’s essential to be receptive, accountable, and precise in describing issues to design relevant solutions.

3) Find the Primary Source of a Problem

Problems may be interrelated, and what appears to be the problem is often a symptom of a deeper “root cause,” as Dalio explains. Analogous to medicine, the symptoms are the problems, and the disease is the root cause. To solve problems effectively, one must identify the root cause. To do this, repeatedly ask “why” until reaching the primary source, rather than stopping at the initial answer.

4) Come Up With Solutions

Diagnosing problems should lead to improvements and positive outcomes; otherwise, it’s a waste of time. After identifying a problem, Dalio recommends developing a detailed plan that includes specific tasks, timelines, and the second- and third-order consequences of the plan.

5) Do the Tasks Required to Completion

To execute your plan, Dalio suggests three tactics: Develop good work habits, measure progress, and stay motivated. This includes using checklists, persevering through failure, and celebrating achievements to remain on track.

Book Summary of The Great Game of Business by by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham

The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham proposes that creating a successful business is best achieved by encouraging employees to take ownership and see the company as theirs. The authors argue that when employees feel a sense of ownership, they are more motivated to work hard for the success of the company.

Stack, a CEO and author, promotes open-book management and believes his principles for leadership can increase productivity and success at any level of a company. Burlingham is an editor and author who co-authored a second book on employee ownership with Stack. The guide synthesizes the authors’ principles into two keys to increasing employee ownership: accessibility and engagement. The commentary compares their advice to other business experts and examines how it intersects with psychological principles.

Defining the Two Keys to Employee Ownership

Encouraging ownership is essential for a successful business, and Stack and Burlingham believe accessibility and engagement are the keys to achieving it. Accessibility means providing employees with enough information to fully understand how the company operates, while engagement means having active and interested employees.

The authors argue that engaged employees who understand the company’s operations are more likely to help the company succeed. Technology can help with accessibility, but companies must make an effort to use it effectively. We’ll explore the benefits of these keys and ways to encourage them further in this guide.

Barriers to Encouraging Ownership

Stack and Burlingham identify several reasons why companies may not prioritize encouraging ownership, despite its significance in achieving a thriving business.

Barrier #1: Misplaced Focus

Some companies prioritize fun over ownership, which can detract from creating a successful business, according to Stack and Burlingham. However, Tony Hsieh disagrees with this view and argues that prioritizing employee happiness can lead to more focused, productive, and innovative employees who are committed to the company’s success.

Barrier #2: Lack of Trust

Stack and Burlingham found that many companies discourage ownership among employees due to a lack of trust. Managers often assume that employees are not invested in the company’s success and withhold important information.

This results in a lack of accessibility and prevents employees from feeling a sense of ownership. This lack of ownership leads to decreased motivation and productivity, which reinforces the manager’s low expectations. For example, a manager may lie about production targets to motivate employees, but this ultimately leads to a lack of trust and decreased productivity.

The Dangers of Managing With Misinformation

Stack and Burlingham point out that spreading misinformation is problematic as it decreases motivation and prevents employees from taking ownership. According to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in The One-Minute Manager, the consequences of manipulation can be even more severe. Employees may become resentful and jaded towards the company, leading to a lack of desire to help it succeed and even sabotaging it.

In contrast, Tony Hsieh believes that honesty is a powerful motivator. Being honest builds trust and relationships, which increases the likelihood of people wanting to help. Zappos’ policy of radical transparency, where employees and outside vendors were trusted with access to inventory and systems, led to the company’s meteoric success.

Barrier #3: The Myth of Omniscience

Some managers don’t encourage ownership because they fear that sharing information and being accessible will damage their reputation. They worry that knowledgeable employees will recognize gaps in their knowledge and lose respect for them. This fear is based on the myth that managers should have all the answers.

However, Stack and Burlingham argue that this attempt to appear omniscient is harmful as managers who refuse to reveal gaps in their knowledge are more likely to make mistakes. Furthermore, employees struggle to take ownership due to a lack of information from their reticent managers. Instead, the authors recommend creating an environment where everyone, including managers, can ask for help and learn from each other without fear.

The Role of Social Comparison Bias in Management

Rolf Dobelli explains in The Art of Thinking Clearly that social comparison bias can cause people to refuse to help others if they feel threatened by their position in a group. This is an evolutionary defense mechanism, but it can be problematic for modern companies.

Hiring managers may avoid hiring more skilled or knowledgeable employees for fear of being replaced. This limits a company’s growth and improvement. To combat social comparison bias, companies can foster a culture of innovation that values risk-taking and learning from mistakes. Innovative companies see mistakes and knowledge gaps as positive attributes that fit the company’s culture, making employees more willing to overcome their shortcomings.

The Benefits of Accessibility

To foster ownership, Stack and Burlingham advocate for accessible and engaging business practices. In this guide, we’ll explore the advantages of accessibility and engagement and the authors’ recommendations for promoting them. Accessibility, defined as sharing sufficient information for employees to comprehend the company’s operations, has three key benefits:

Benefit #1: Enforced Accountability

Employees are more likely to take responsibility for their choices and their impact on the company when they have access to information about how the company operates. This is because it’s easier to trace problems to their root causes when details are openly available, according to Stack and Burlingham.

Openness prevents employees from shifting blame or hiding mistakes, which encourages accountability. To minimize fear of punishment for mistakes, companies should prioritize a culture of respect and empathy over blaming and punishing individuals.

Benefit #2: Increased Productivity

According to Stack and Burlingham, accessibility also boosts productivity. When employees have a clear understanding of how the company operates, they can adjust their processes accordingly and make decisions without constantly seeking guidance from management. For example, if employees are aware of the time it takes for the computer system to process order forms, they can adjust their submission times to ensure timely shipping.

Encouraging Productivity: More Complex Than Just Offering Accessibility?

According to Stack and Burlingham, accessibility boosts productivity because it enables employees to improve processes and make decisions independently. However, Paul Marciano argues that productivity also requires resources and autonomy. For example, Bill needs access to computers to implement his knowledge of how to improve his work processes.

Autonomy is also necessary, as Bill’s manager needs to give him the freedom to submit the forms in the evening. In addition to improving productivity, accessibility also encourages teamwork by demonstrating how each department and individual contributes to the company’s success. This understanding fosters cooperation, as employees realize that they must work together to ensure the entire company thrives.

Signs of Interconnectivity

To encourage employees to focus on the success of the whole company, Stack and Burlingham suggest that understanding how a company is interconnected is key. This shift in focus is crucial for adaptation and success, as noted by The Practice of Adaptive Leadership.

To help employees adapt and thrive together, your company should have traits like shared resources, compensation structures that prioritize company-wide performance, leadership with experience across departments, and shadowing opportunities for employees to learn from each other.

Creating Accessibility

Stack and Burlingham suggest three key actions for making a business accessible: clarifying the business, clarifying financial information, and regularly informing employees.

Step #1: Explain the Business

To make a company accessible, it is important to ensure that employees understand the company’s products or services, goals, and purpose. According to Stack and Burlingham, employees may have a narrow view of the company, which can hinder their support for its larger goals. In contrast, knowledgeable employees are more likely to take ownership and work hard to support the company’s goals.

Sharing the company’s goals, purpose, and operations directly with employees is the most effective method of education, which can be done during onboarding and meetings with established employees. For example, a car saleswoman named Shelly becomes more passionate about selling upgraded cars to customers when she learns that the company’s purpose is to decrease crashes and protect its customers.

The Psychology of Memory in Business

According to Stack and Burlingham, employees often lack a broad understanding of their company, which can discourage ownership. This is because the brain prioritizes remembering relevant information and forgets what it deems irrelevant.

Employees focus on remembering their personal tasks, as forgetting them could result in losing their jobs. The company’s overall goals and operations are seen as less important and thus forgotten. To counter this, Stack and Burlingham suggest discussing the company’s organization, goals, and purpose during onboarding and meetings. This makes these concepts more relevant to employees’ day-to-day tasks, which encourages them to work harder to fulfill them.

Step #2: Explain the Numbers

To effectively take ownership and help the business succeed, employees must understand the numerical details of how the company works towards its goals – especially financial numbers, according to Stack and Burlingham. Financial statements are the language of business, and comprehension of them reduces misunderstandings between employees, which can lead to over-ordering and inventory issues.

Explain Balance Sheets and Income Statements

According to Stack and Burlingham, understanding balance sheets and income statements is crucial for employees to take ownership and help their company succeed. Balance sheets reveal financial problems, while income statements help diagnose their cause.

This knowledge allows employees to diagnose and solve problems as they arise, rather than waiting for upper management to address them. The authors recommend offering classes and tutoring in reading these financial documents to both new and established employees. However, before educating employees, it’s crucial to ensure that financial statements are accurately constructed, clearly organized, and regularly updated to make them easier to understand.

Step #3: Keep Employees Updated

To succeed, employees must have access to constantly updated information about a company’s goals and numbers. Outdated information can lead to harm for the company, causing it to fail to meet its goals or even collapse. The authors recommend frequent staff meetings, posters, scoreboards, and charts to keep everyone informed.

This is important because modern markets are constantly shifting and companies need to be viewed as constantly evolving. Visual management systems are valuable tools because humans process information visually faster and more accurately than with words.

The Benefit of Engagement

To foster employee ownership, engagement is the second key, defined as active and interested employees. Engaged employees use their intelligence, creativity, and dedication, leading to better business decisions, innovative solutions, and harder work.

Unengaged employees focus on tasks and paycheck, leaving potential untapped. Efficient and positive relationships between management and employees are crucial to avoid disengagement. Understanding employees’ weaknesses, talents, and personalities can make them happier and more engaged, leading to autonomy and company success.

Creating Engagement

To foster employee ownership, engagement is crucial. Stack and Burlingham define engagement as employees being active and interested in their work, which leads to better business decisions, innovative problem-solving, and stronger dedication to the company.

Unengaged employees, on the other hand, are at risk of becoming lethargic and using only the minimum required to complete their tasks. To promote engagement, businesses should prioritize accessibility, as learning new information releases dopamine and generates pleasure and motivation. However, setting goals and offering rewards are also essential factors in generating engagement, according to Stack and Burlingham.

Step #1: Set Company-Wide Goals

According to Stack and Burlingham, active and interested employees are key to creating engagement in the workplace. One way to achieve this is by setting specific company-wide goals, as this gives employees something tangible to work towards. Specific goals, like “make 100 sales this week,” are more motivating than vague ones like “increase sales.”

By achieving these goals, employees can see how their actions can impact the company’s success, making their work more meaningful and interesting.

Set Baseline and Ambitious Goals

Stack and Burlingham advise that setting a minimum level of success for the company is the first step in goal-setting, as it ensures survival. However, it’s important to go beyond this baseline and set more ambitious goals for company growth and success.

Using sales and profit projections as starting points for goal-setting can help create a middle-ground or comfort zone, but it’s also important to set stretch goals that encourage employees to get out of their comfort zones and increase their effort. Achieving smaller goals can provide important motivation for employees and help them feel more invested in the company’s success.

Consult Other Departments When Setting Goals

Consulting with other departments is crucial when setting goals, according to Stack and Burlingham. While sales and marketing may provide estimates, other departments provide concrete information to determine if the projections are feasible and accurate.

For instance, the manufacturing department can determine if making 500 cars, as projected by sales and marketing, is possible in terms of cost and labor and if it will actually result in $3 million in profit. This advice aligns with the OKR goal-setting system’s approach of having larger objectives and smaller key results, where employees set most of their own key results for efficiency and better understanding of their goals.

Step #2: Offer Rewards

To promote engagement, Stack and Burlingham suggest offering rewards, which incentivize people to be active and earn them. Rewards create positive feelings, activating the pleasure centers of the brain and releasing dopamine, which leads to increased engagement. The authors recommend two methods for offering rewards:

Method #1: Institute a Bonus Program

Stack and Burlingham recommend using a bonus program to encourage engagement by offering rewards to employees who reach certain goals. The program should operate on a company-wide level, with everyone working together to meet the same goals and receive the same bonus. Individual bonuses can create conflict and a lack of cooperation.

The bonus program should have tiers, with increasing bonuses for more ambitious goals, and payouts every few months to keep employees engaged. This structure concretely shows employees their progress and encourages positive feelings associated with making progress.

Preventing Inter-Employee Competition

Stack and Burlingham warn that competing for bonuses can lead to conflict, as it requires one person to fail for another to succeed. To avoid this problem, the authors suggest offering company-wide goals instead of individual bonuses.

Alternatively, individual bonuses can be offered that make employees compete against themselves rather than their coworkers. In this scenario, employees push themselves out of their comfort zones to reach certain goals and earn bonuses, without relying on their coworkers’ failures. This approach helps to prevent conflict and promotes mutual appreciation and support.

Method #2: Offer Equity

Stack and Burlingham suggest offering equity as a reward to increase employee engagement. By giving employees a stake in the company’s ownership, they become more invested in the company’s success. As the company’s value increases, so does the value of their shares.

However, the authors warn that offering equity is only effective if employees have access to information about what affects share value, as uninformed employees may become upset by temporary dips in share price.

Equity and Participative Management

Equity is a powerful reward that encourages engagement and improves company performance. Studies show that companies with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) grow faster, perform better, and retain more employees than those without.

ESOP companies are also more resilient in the face of economic hardship. Offering equity gives employees ownership and the ability to influence the company’s direction, motivating them to work hard to improve its performance.

Pairing equity with participative management further increases motivation, as it extends employees’ sense of influence over day-to-day operations. Participative management can be implemented by including employees in important meetings, seeking their feedback regularly, and educating both managers and employees on effective participation.

Book Summary of Launch by Jeff Walker

In the digital age, starting a business online has become easy, but standing out in a crowded market is challenging. Jeff Walker’s “Launch” provides a strategy for product launch that requires minimal start-up costs and emphasizes value and customer engagement to create a profitable and flexible business.

This guide explores how the internet has changed marketing, and how to take advantage of this new landscape to grow your business successfully. It also discusses how to use email marketing to draw in new customers and how Walker’s method functions using psychological insights. The guide also compares “Launch” to other marketing books by experts like Seth Godin and Ryan Holiday.

Entrepreneur and digital marketing expert Jeff Walker’s “Launch” emphasizes the importance of prioritizing customer engagement and providing value over sales when launching a product online. This strategy can help create a profitable and flexible business with minimal start-up costs. Walker’s approach is centered around building an email list, which is a powerful tool for success.

This guide explores the five stages of Walker’s product launch method and how it sets itself apart from other strategies. Additionally, the guide provides insights into the psychology and logic behind the approach and compares it to other experts in the field.

The Product Launch in the Online Business World

In contrast to the conventional method of hoping for sales after releasing a product, Jeff Walker’s product launch strategy places an emphasis on developing potential purchasers before a product is released. A product launch is the process of introducing and selling a new product, whether it be physical or informational.

When introducing a product, the Internet offers both benefits and drawbacks, such as the ability to reach a worldwide audience at a low cost but with increasing competition and transparency. Walker’s approach emphasizes customer engagement to achieve success in internet marketing and depart from traditional marketing strategies.

Three Keys to a Successful Launch

Jeff Walker suggests utilizing mental triggers, which are brain shortcuts that influence people to take certain actions, to stand out in the digital marketing arena.

Value, connections, and desire, three crucial elements of a successful product introduction, are supported by these triggers. You may increase your launch’s traction and reactivity and increase your chances of success by including all three variables.

Heuristics: Mental Shortcuts Can Help Market Your Product

According to Walker, using mental shortcuts or heuristics is crucial in achieving a successful product launch. These shortcuts, which are also known as heuristics, help people navigate the world and make decisions quickly and efficiently. They remain effective in marketing because they are grounded in human psychology. 

  • One such heuristic is accessibility, which entails creating a favorable perception of your product in the minds of your customers. 
  • The other is representativeness, which describes why we have a propensity to make judgments based on preconceived notions.
  • A third heuristic is loss aversion, which suggests that people are more motivated by the fear of losing things than the hope of gaining things. By using these heuristics, you can build value, relationships, and desire during your launch process, as we’ll discuss shortly.

Build Value

Walker believes that providing value before pushing for sales is a key factor in the success of launching a product or business. By focusing on providing value to potential customers, rather than selling a product, entrepreneurs can establish trust and authority, making it easier to stand out in a crowded digital market.

Giving away quality information for free not only provides people with a taste of the product or service but also showcases the entrepreneur’s expertise. This generosity can lead to increased appreciation and a reciprocated desire to purchase the product, ultimately leading to a successful launch.

Build Relationships

According to Walker, developing trusting connections with current and potential customers is essential for a successful product launch. You may build communities around your product and have continuous engagement with clients by spreading out your launch across a few days or weeks.

This generates momentum in your launch and creates social proof, as people base their actions off the opinions and experiences of others. People are more likely to purchase your goods when they hear other people are excited about it. Strong ties with consumers may be formed through creating a community around your product, and connections amongst customers can help your launch succeed even more.

Build Desire

According to Walker, to persuade people to buy your product, you need to make them want it. He advocates approaching the introduction of your product like a huge event to generate interest and demand in order to accomplish this. Making it a countdown event would encourage people’s innate desire to participate in something greater, creating anticipation for the launch day. However, this approach requires an endpoint to create urgency for people to make a decision.

To make your product launch a successful event, Walker recommends breaking it down into five stages: 1) building an email list, 2) gauging the interest of potential customers, 3) creating anticipation, 4) opening for sales, and 5) following up with both shoppers and non-shoppers.

Stage 1: Create an Email List

According to Walker, building an email list is crucial for a successful product launch, regardless of whether you have a clear business idea or an established product. The internet provides access to a broader audience, and enticing people to subscribe to your content helps establish and maintain strong business relationships.

Start Your List

Walker suggests the following three techniques to expand your email list: social networking, paid ads, and unpaid traffic. Improving your website to rank better in search engine results is one way to increase organic traffic. Social media can be used to draw attention and direct people to your email list, but Walker cautions against relying solely on social media to market your product.

Paid advertising can be used to drive more people to your landing page and email list, with different approaches depending on whether you’re targeting warm or cold traffic. By following these strategies, you can build and grow an email list that will help ensure a successful launch for your product or business.

Ad Blockers and Banner Blindness

Walker advises using paid advertising to promote your product launch, but how can you ensure that your ads are effective given that many people use ad blockers? A study conducted in 2022 found that 42.7% of people worldwide use ad blockers, which can pose a challenge when trying to drive paid traffic to your launch.

However, many people don’t mind ads as long as they are not disruptive or annoying. Another issue is banner blindness, where people subconsciously ignore ads due to their location and appearance. Experts suggest creating visually-unique designs, having a clear and attractive message, and incorporating interactive features to avoid this.

Stage 2: Gauge Interest

To determine if your product launch will be successful, you should gauge interest and engagement from your email subscribers. Send out an email alerting them about the product and ask for feedback and questions through a survey. This will help you modify your product to meet their needs and increase their interest in buying.

If you continue to generate anticipation and communicate with your subscribers, avoid mentioning any upcoming deals at this time. By doing so, you’ll keep your product at the forefront of their minds.

Stage 3: Build Anticipation

To build anticipation and encourage purchases of your product, Walker advises following the introduction of your offer with three pieces of excellent marketing material sent to your email list.

This strategy works better than a standard sales letter because it builds anticipation over a number of days and tells a story. To keep your audience interested, the material structure can change, but it should be spread out between five to twelve days.

Offer Value with Three Content Pieces

Walker advises addressing three key questions in your three marketing pieces: Why should someone buy your product? What is your product? And how will it benefit them?

Piece #1: The Reason—“Why”

To capture your audience’s attention in the first marketing piece, answer the “why” questions – why should they care about your product and why should they listen to you? Walker advises using your product’s promotion to bring about improvement or change and building your authority by discussing your relevant expertise. Additionally, providing a free sample of your content can entice potential customers and encourage engagement.

Piece #2: The Product—“What”

In your second piece, summarize your product and address any concerns your prospects may have. Offer a free sample of your product, such as an in-depth tutorial of another longboard trick. Hint at the third piece and encourage feedback.

Piece #3: The Benefit—“How”

For the last piece of content, Walker recommends showcasing how people can experience the benefits of your product and visualize their own transformation. Offer a case study, such as before-and-after videos of a beginner longboarder, to convince people that the product will work for them. Respond to the main concerns raised in feedback requests, then move on to talking about your offer and how your followers may obtain your product and profit from it.

Stage 4: Open to Sales

Walker advises setting up a sales website page and delivering a brief email with a link to let people know that your product is now available for purchase during the third step of the launch process. Send an email every day of your launch offering updates, expressing appreciation, and addressing queries to your fans in order to improve outcomes.

Finally, create a sense of scarcity by having a definitive end to your launch with a price increase, special bonus removal, or offer end. As the end approaches, remind people of your cart’s closing time in emails to capitalize on procrastinators.

Stage 5: Follow Up

After your launch, maintain and grow your business by nurturing relationships with shoppers and non-shoppers. Walker advocates surpassing expectations by keeping in regular contact and going above and beyond. Write a thank you note asking for feedback and describing the outcomes of your launch.

Offer bonus content to both shoppers and non-shoppers. For buyers, a bonus gift shows gratitude, while asking for feedback strengthens the connection. For non-buyers, more content and feedback can provide insights for future launches.

Variations of the Product Launch

Learn two variations of Walker’s launch strategy: launching without a product and launching with a partner company.

Launching Without a Product

To launch a product teaching cat trick, follow the formula:

  • Gather a list of prospects, no matter how small.
  • Present your offer with the benefits in three content pieces.
  • Open your initial product and send surveys for feedback.
  • Use feedback to create the next iteration of your product and repeat the process.

Customer Feedback Loop: How to Implement Feedback

Walker’s feedback-based product development process is similar to a customer feedback loop, a strategy that aims to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty by collecting, analyzing, implementing, and following up on feedback.

To apply this approach, you can collect feedback in various ways, such as through email or text messages, categorize it based on customer types, analyze it for patterns, apply it to your product, and follow up with customers to keep them engaged in the process.

Launching With Partners

Partner launches, in which you work with other businesses to increase your audience and email list, will elevate your launch. Send emails to your partners’ subscribers advertising your offer and driving them to your landing page just before release. Your partners will receive a percentage of your sales in return for the increased exposure.

Here are the steps Walker suggests for finding a launch partner:

  1. Partnering with companies can help you promote your product to a wider audience. By having access to their email lists, you can quickly grow your own.
  2. To find a partner for your launch, search online for relevant companies in your field that serve your market’s goal. Join their email lists, read their emails, and narrow down to three to five best options. Create value to stand out when reaching out to potential partners.
  3. Before involving partners in your product launch, make sure your product is successful by running one with your own list first. When you get good launch results, your partners will be more inclined to continue working with you.

Product Launching With Influencers

Walker and Holiday both advise collaborating with others to expand your audience and increase awareness of your upcoming product launch. Walker suggests teaming up with other companies, while Holiday recommends working with influencers on social media.

Both advise conducting research and providing something of value in exchange for their promotion to locate a solid partner or influencer. Lastly, both stress the significance of forging deep bonds with collaborators and influencers by emphasizing providing them with value and respecting them as individuals.

Exercise: Build Anticipation With Three Content Pieces

Walker emphasizes the importance of creating anticipation when launching a product. To do this, he recommends planning out three pieces of marketing content. Try this exercise by thinking of a product or service you’d like to sell and mapping out your three pieces.

Describe your product or service and explain the change or transformation it offers. What makes you an authority in providing it?

Next, think about the value you can offer your customers. Perhaps you could give a tutorial with expert advice or offer a discount for early adopters.

Finally, consider how your product can help customers meet their goals. Showcase this through a video tour or case study of a successful user.

Book Summary of The Essays of Warren Buffett

A collection of Buffett’s yearly reports to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders is available as The Essays of Warren Buffett. In addition to his commercial savvy, Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is renowned for his success across a variety of sectors and his reputation as a teacher.

He views shareholders as partners and uses his annual report to educate them on Berkshire’s operations and his investment decisions. Buffett’s essays provide valuable insights into his investment philosophy and principles, which contrast with typical Wall Street culture. He also sheds light on the ethical landscape of the wider business world. Though his ideas on investing are easy to understand, they are difficult to put into practice.

This guide covers Buffett’s writings on investment practices and the inner workings of high finance. The part on investments looks at Buffett’s suggestions, his critiques of flawed economic theories, and the kinds of investments to steer clear of.

The book illustrates Buffett’s beliefs by contrasting Berkshire Hathaway’s values with the conventional culture and principles of Wall Street corporations. It also presents the ideas of other financial experts, both in agreement with and in opposition to Buffett’s philosophy. The guide places Buffett’s career and essays in their historical context and evaluates how well his ideas hold up in modern investment.

How to Invest

Buffett’s most valuable insights for both casual and professional investors relate to his ideas on the dos and don’ts of the stock market. His fundamental philosophy is that owning a stock means owning a piece of a real-world business. He advises investors to identify and invest in well-run businesses that are undervalued, and to hold onto their stocks indefinitely as long as the business continues to be well-managed and profitable.

This strategy goes against the widely held belief on Wall Street that stock prices and company valuations are generally unrelated. Buffett warns against trading based on the market’s mood swings, instead endorsing long-term investments as the best way to maximize returns. Buffett doesn’t make forecasts, unlike other traders who can foresee the future with accuracy; instead, he concentrates on buying good companies at bargain prices.

Best Practices

Individual investors might benefit from Warren Buffett’s writings, which primarily provide an explanation of his investing approaches for Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. One of his main points is to invest in industries that you understand and have knowledge about, which can give you an advantage in identifying companies with good future prospects. In order to profit from the market’s rising momentum, he also stresses the significance of understanding the value of market volatility and investing in straightforward index funds.

Buffett emphasizes the idea of purchasing stocks as a form of business ownership rather than just a short-term investment, and advises investors to concentrate on businesses that effectively utilize capital to generate consistent profits, particularly in sectors where future prospects are straightforward to predict.Buffett’s strategy is based on “hedgehog thinking,” which entails concentrating on one’s “circle of competence,” or area of expertise, to make wise investment decisions.

The Upside of Volatility

Warren Buffett believes that market volatility is good for investors, as it offers great deals when the market’s behavior is irrational. While high stock prices may be pleasing to owners, investors want stock prices to be low. Buffett recommends investing in industries that you understand, and if you don’t have time or resources for thorough research, he suggests putting your money into a simple S&P index fund.

This way, gains will match the overall market with minimal loss to brokerage trading fees, rather than trying to “beat the market” through day trading or individual stock picking.

Mindful Investing

Benjamin Graham, the mentor of Warren Buffett, distinguishes between thoughtful investors who make rational decisions and speculators who are driven by emotions and irrational optimism. For those who want to make money simply and safely without much effort, low-cost index funds are recommended.

Yet diligent but aggressive investors like Buffett devote their time and efforts to well-researched investments, turning investing into a full-time career. On the other hand, Ramit Sethi recommends starting with retirement accounts, such as your employer’s 401(k), if available, then opening a Roth IRA. Sethi also advises automating payments into your investment accounts, exploring index and mutual funds, and gradually learning about other types of equities.

Economic Nonsense

Buffett’s financial ideas may seem like common sense, but they often contradict the views of many financial professionals. He concedes that there are several topics where his opinions and those of other investors diverge, such as the efficacy of diversified portfolios, efficient market theory, and the importance of financial advisors.

Efficient Market Theory

Deeper study is unimportant according to the Efficient Market Theory (EMT), which contends that because financial markets are naturally intelligent and logical, stock prices always represent the true worth of their respective enterprises. According to Buffett, study into a firm shows its underlying value, and stock swings are generally worthless until they present possibilities.

He finds it frustrating that EMT is still taught in business schools despite being discredited. EMT’s underlying implication that investors are rational actors was challenged by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who proved that humans are fundamentally irrational, undermining much of the economic research of their day.


Buffett challenges the idea that diversification of a portfolio protects against risk, which he believes originates from academic models that equate risk with volatility. Instead, he defines risk as the odds of suffering financial harm and recommends investing in a few safe bets such as companies with good management and excellent long-term economics.

Although Berkshire Hathaway’s diversified holdings may appear to contradict this approach, most of its investments are in majority shares in the businesses it owns, committing a significant amount of capital, and Buffett’s personal holdings are not diversified. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a mathematician, endorses this strategy in his book Skin in the Game, where he makes the case for focused investing rather than diversification.

Financial Advisers

Buffett criticizes the culture of brokers and advisers who create and sell complex financial products, encourage frequent trades, and obfuscate market clarity to convince investors of their need for their services. These professionals skim off the top in the form of service fees and transfer wealth away from investors. Although they claim to outperform the overall market, the vast majority of them fail.

Buffett’s portfolio has outperformed the S&P 500 by 3,000% since transitioning Berkshire Hathaway into a holding company. Brokers and advisers feed off fear and optimism in the market, incentivizing them to recommend more trades and products even when it would be wiser for investors to let their money sit in an index fund with minimal fees. Advisers bear none of the risk as their clients’ fortunes rise or fall.

What to Avoid

Buffett favors equities but discusses other forms of investment and explains why they’re problematic. He advises against investing in ineffective goods like jewelry, collectibles, and gold since they are only worth what others are willing to pay for them. He also cautions against trash bonds, which are issued by failing businesses and carry a significant default risk. Investing in money market funds and bonds may seem safe, but their interest doesn’t keep pace with inflation, causing money invested in them to lose value over time.

Despite diversification minimizing risk, investing in junk bonds is like buying a lot of lottery tickets. Junk bonds exacerbate financial crises, and the market for them was particularly active in the 1980s until a series of defaults in 1989 led to a downturn in the stock market and the bankruptcy of investment firm Drexel Burnham.

Financial Derivatives

Derivatives are complex financial products that are essentially bets on how a portion of the market will behave. They are instruments of pure speculation and their value depends entirely on the financial strength of the parties involved. While both parties to the wager can assert that their derivatives yield genuine earnings up until the derivative actually comes due, Warren Buffett contends that derivatives are tools of deception. Derivative contracts are designed to be so complex that their true risks and false earnings claims are hard for portfolio auditors to spot.

Buffett also emphasizes the importance of avoiding borrowing money to invest, as it can lead to financial ruin. Debt is often sugar-coated as “leverage,” but eventually, all debts come due, and if your investments have dropped in value, you won’t be able to pay off your debts. It is important to be debt-free before investing.

How to Run an Investment Business

In the article, Warren Buffett’s opinions on Berkshire Hathaway’s internal operations are discussed. Buffett thinks Berkshire Hathaway distinguishes itself from other investment firms via openness, sane investing, and delivering wealth for shareholders. Buffett, on the other hand, criticizes the shortcomings of Wall Street’s business practices, including their use of financial derivatives, dubious accounting practices, and expensive acquisitions.

Buffett believes that CEOs lack true accountability, and many are rewarded for mediocrity. By withholding funds from investors, boards and CEOs frequently fudge profit figures, and if the business collapses, they flee with golden parachute payouts. Buffett is particularly skeptical of giving stock options to CEOs as pay since he thinks that doing so is a genuine expenditure that is unrelated to the success of the CEO. Yet CEOs frequently bargain for stock options, which have none of the risk that shareholders have but nonetheless yield the same benefits. Buffett lobbied for a change in accounting rules to list stock options as an expense, but he lost.

The Trouble With Stock Options

Stock options might encourage CEOs to take dangerous actions to increase the value of the stock, even when such actions could cause the stock price to fall and harm shareholders. Notwithstanding this problem, many companies continue to give stock options to CEOs as a strategy to increase remuneration, even when there is no connection between CEO pay and a company’s success.

In a recent study, over 70% of CEO pay comes from stock awards and options, 20% from bonuses, and less than 10% from their actual salary. Yet according to a 2021 Harvard Business Review research, stock options are only useful when CEOs may otherwise misappropriate business resources for their own benefit.

Takeovers, Debt, and Danger

Buffett’s investment strategy involves buying interests in companies he admires, but other corporations often engage in buyouts and takeovers that harm shareholders. CEOs and acquisitions managers often prioritize corporate growth without adding meaningful value, resulting in paying too high a price for another company and issuing new stock, which reduces the value of existing shareholders’ stock.

Instead of issuing new stock, bonds can be used to raise quick capital without impacting stock value, but investors should be cautious of bonds issued by companies in financial trouble. Leveraged buyouts, in which one business borrows money to acquire another, hurt whole industries and jeopardize the livelihoods of workers. Derivatives are used to hedge against debt risk, but they can pose a danger to the larger economy if a wave of defaults occurs, potentially causing the economy to collapse.

The Financial and Social Cost of Leveraged Buyouts

Leveraged buyouts transfer the burden of debt onto the company being bought, not the acquiring company. This means that if the loan defaults, the bought company goes bankrupt, not the buyer. Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is an example of this, as he put $33 billion of his own money into the purchase, but Twitter was left with $13 billion in debt.

The potential consequences of Twitter’s insolvency highlight the societal impact of corporate insolvency, as it could affect the information landscape and cost thousands of jobs. This illustrates Buffett’s thesis regarding the risks associated with leveraged buyouts.

The Berkshire Way

The article discusses Warren Buffett’s unique approach to running his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, and the business philosophies that guide his decisions as CEO. Buffett favors boosting Berkshire Hathaway’s overall value per share over merely the number of its assets, in contrast to typical Wall Street practices. He values transparency and accountability to shareholders, providing them with comprehensive information about the company’s financial and managerial standing.

He thinks that a company with a reasonable price will draw long-term investors who respect and embrace Berkshire Hathaway’s culture. Buffett views his investors as partners and requires board members to own at least $4 million in Berkshire stock outright to avoid conflicts of interest. CEO compensation is judged on performance and real returns generated, not just the company’s stock price.

Growing the Berkshire Family of Businesses

Warren Buffett’s favorite part of his job is acquiring new businesses. In his youth, he looked for mid-range businesses available for cheap, but with Berkshire, he seeks out high-quality companies that he can buy for fair prices. For every opportunity that arises, he compares the potential value of an acquisition to other, more conservative ways to invest.

Buffett doesn’t intervene much with his new businesses’ operations after Berkshire owns a majority share. As long as an acquisition can provide even a small return on investment, Berkshire don’t ever sells it off, understanding that a mid-tier company is still a crucial source of revenue for its employees and their families. Buffett’s investment philosophies dictate that Berkshire never takes on debt to buy new businesses. Instead, it has a ready pool of capital from its numerous subsidiaries available for acquisitions. This owner-centric philosophy, which Buffett claims he deliberately fostered so that it will last long when he is gone, is at the core of Berkshire Hathaway’s culture.

Book Summary of Built to Sell by John Warrillow

According to John Warrillow, the secret to creating a successful company is to make one that can run without the owner. By doing this, you may create a company that can function without the owner. This strategy not only raises the company’s worth but also makes it simpler to market the company to prospective purchasers. In his book Designed to Sell, Warrillow utilizes an imaginary narrative to explain how to operate and sell a small firm.

The necessity of focusing in a good or service, producing a healthy cash flow, selecting the best salespeople and management group, and handling the business sale are all emphasized in the book. Warrillow contrasts his recommendations to those of other business gurus throughout the book to provide readers a thorough overview of how to create and market a successful, scalable firm.

Reasons for constructing a business that can be sold

According to John Warrillow, constructing a business that can be sold is advantageous, even if you do not have any intentions of selling it.A sellable business is one that has high profit margins, low risk, and room for growth, which are qualities that benefit any business or owner.

Building a sellable business also provides options in case of unexpected changes in the business or personal life, such as needing to sell the business for money or no longer enjoying running it. However, Warrillow advises against starting a business solely with the intention of selling it, as this may lead to neglecting important aspects of the business that make it sellable and reduce the chances of a successful sale.

What Makes a Business Sellable

According to John Warrillow, the most important attribute that makes a business sellable is its ability to operate successfully without the owner. A business that does not rely on a single employee, including the owner, is more attractive to potential buyers.

Regrettably, a lot of small business owners become so intertwined with their enterprises that they are indispensable to it. Warrillow presents a step-by-step procedure for creating and selling a business that can operate without the owner, which includes selecting the ideal product or service, producing positive cash flow, and selecting and educating the ideal staff members and management. The ultimate objective is to build a company that can run well without the owner’s ongoing involvement, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.

The Personal Toll of Running a Business

Warrillow stresses the need of creating a company that can run without the owner. This is because single ownership of the company’s success might result in fatigue and ultimate collapse. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber illustrates how many business owners try to handle everything themselves in the beginning, which causes overwork and disillusionment. It is advisable to adopt a strategic perspective on the company and engage assistance when needed to prevent this.

The goal is to grow the business, and the best way to achieve that is to delegate tasks to others instead of trying to do everything alone.

Step 1: Find Your Scalable Specialty

John Warrillow, in his book “Built to Sell,” suggests that to build a sellable and scalable company, you should focus on specializing in one product or service that is unique and valuable, and that can be learned by employees.

Warrillow also stresses the significance of providing a repurchasable product, which refers to discovering a good or service that clients may use frequently. Warrillow advises putting new hires through rigorous training programs to create a balance between distinctiveness and learnability. The product should also offer a clear advantage and be simple for buyers to grasp.

Step 2: Generate Positive Cash Flow

After deciding on your area of expertise, it’s crucial to concentrate on producing positive cash flow in order to achieve long-term success in your company. If your company has positive cash flow, it is earning more than it is spending. For the money to be released to carry out the remainder of the growth process, this is crucial.

Note that cash flow and profit are different, and a profitable business can have negative cash flow. To generate positive cash flow, Warrillow recommends charging upfront for your product or service or adopting a subscription model. To facilitate upfront payment, you can offer discounts for early payment or send out invoices as soon as they’re generated. Doing credit checks for customers can also help improve cash flow.

Step 3: Hire the Right Salespeople

According to Warrillow, it’s appropriate to recruit a sales staff after you have a good cash flow and a service that can be given without human participation. He contends that salespeople with product-selling experience are more suited than those who sell services since they are knowledgeable about how to market a particular good.

They can also sell your specialized service effectively. Warrillow suggests hiring at least two salespeople to create a competitive environment and demonstrate the company’s success as a whole. If you only have one salesperson, potential buyers might assume that the company’s success is due to the salesperson’s talent.

More Tips On Building a Sales Team

The book Sales Management by Mike Weinberg. Simplified advises employing a number of salespeople to fill several positions in the sales department, such as generating leads, keeping clients, and providing customer service.

This enables each position to make use of particular abilities. In accordance with Warrillow’s counsel, Weinberg highlights the value of an effective sales pitch that can sell a good or service without altering it for every new client. A sales pitch should be a succinct and uncomplicated story that conveys to the buyer the value of the item or service.

Step 4: Build a Team of Managers and Incentivize Them to Stay

Warrillow contends that in order to successfully sell your firm, you must have a strong management team in place. Warrillow suggests setting up a bonus account that managers may only take from after a specified amount of time in order to encourage this team to remain with the business after the sale.

As long-term rewards, he cautions against giving management stock in the firm or a cut of the earnings because these arrangements can lead to conflicts of interest and make a sale more challenging. He proposes, instead, encouraging managers to build connections with their workers and allowing them the time and space they require to assist and learn from one another. Giving managers shares as compensation is a common practice, but it has drawbacks as well.

Step 5: Find the Right Company to Help Sell Your Business

To sell your company, you should find a professional adviser who is the right size for your business and has knowledge of your industry. A business broker is suitable for companies with less than $2 million in annual sales, while a merger and acquisition (M&A) firm is suitable for larger companies.

In order to make sure that they understand the importance of your firm, it is crucial to pick an advisor that is knowledgeable about your sector. While M&A companies are more likely to broker complicated agreements on a national or international level, business brokers often work on a smaller scale. Industry-savvy advisors are more likely to push for your business’s best possible pricing.

Step 6: Inform Your Managers

According to Warrillow, notifying your management that you want to sell your business might be difficult, especially if you have a close connection with them. To prevent catching them off guard at a meeting with a possible customer, it is essential to let them know ahead of time.

Warrillow recommends informing them once you find a potential buyer. You can also offer them a one-time bonus and highlight the benefits they might experience as part of a larger company. However, it’s essential to be aware of potential drawbacks, such as job cuts and changes in corporate culture. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recommends involving key managers early in the process to support the transition and maintain trust. 

Step 7: Accept an Offer

In the final step of selling a business, it is important to know what you want from the deal to make the decision easier, according to Warrillow. This means having a clear minimum amount of money you will accept up front, and any future performance fees or add-ons as a bonus.

You might need to stay on staff with the firm if the majority of your income is contingent on its future performance in order to ensure that you are paid. Understanding your bottom line can help you resist pressure from your broker to accept a less desirable bargain in order to move on.

More Advice on Selling Your Business

According to Ben Horowitz’s book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” it’s crucial to take both your intellectual and emotional sides into account when selling a business. Both of these elements are covered in Warrillow’s advise on knowing what you want out of a bargain.

Horowitz advises examining whether the industry your firm specializes in is larger than it seems and whether it has the potential to be one of the top businesses in that market in order to determine your company’s actual value. The buyer may lower their offer during due diligence or even withdraw from the purchase completely, so it’s important to be aware that the process can be drawn-out and time-consuming. As a result, it’s crucial to stay to your guns, don’t give up if this occurs, and understand the true value of your business.

Book Summary of Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willink

“Jocko Willink’s book “Leadership Strategy and Tactics” places a major emphasis on developing strong connections, putting people first, and accepting responsibility for team failures. Willink, a former US Navy SEAL and founder of leadership consulting program Echelon Front, combines his previous leadership principles into a field manual in this book.

The book offers more than 30 bits of advice on leadership, divided into four themes: modesty, connections, accountability, and balance. To assist readers in putting Willink’s ideas into practice in their everyday lives, the article goes into great depth on these topics and offers parallels to other leadership works as well as perspectives from psychologists and leadership specialists.

The Importance of Leadership

This section of the manual will examine Jocko Willink’s idea of leadership and emphasize its significance. We will distinguish leadership from manipulation and stress the need of it for success.

What Is Leadership?

In conclusion, Jocko Willink asserts that effective leadership entails mobilizing others to work toward a common objective. It involves motivating your team to do what you want them to do, but for the common good rather than for your own benefit, which distinguishes it from manipulation. Willink argues that true leadership involves serving your team and achieving a shared mission, leading to long-term success and a loyal following.

Is Manipulation Ever Ethical?

Willink contends that leadership and manipulation are distinct, although a second expert disputes this claim, claiming that certain ethical leadership philosophies would recognize manipulation as a tactic. Kantian philosophy deems manipulation ethical when it considers the manipulated individual’s interests and treats them as an “end in themselves.” If manipulation results in greater good than greater evil, according to utilitarian philosophy, the larger good should take precedence over individual satisfaction.

Why Leadership Matters

In his book, “Leadership Strategy and Tactics,” Willink emphasizes the importance of leadership and how it can benefit both the team and the individual. Willink believes that by being a good leader and putting others before yourself, you can help your team achieve success and reach collective goals more efficiently.

Willink proposes that service-oriented leadership results in success both as a leader and an individual. Although he doesn’t explain the reason behind this, research indicates that helping others can enhance personal fulfillment and meaning by reinforcing self-worth and fostering stronger connections.

Good Leaders Are Humble

Willink advocates for leaders to exhibit humility by recognizing that every team member is equally essential. The following section examines how leaders who demonstrate humility can earn the respect and loyalty of their team. It also emphasizes the importance of humility in making informed decisions and improving leadership skills.

Practice Humility to Earn Respect From Your Team

Leaders must avoid placing themselves above their team, as this can lead to resentment and reduced motivation. Adopting a humble approach and collaborating with the team can encourage cooperation and help achieve shared goals. Acting humbly also fosters respect, which can enhance followership.

To cultivate humility and gain the team’s respect, three recommended practices are avoiding condescending language, engaging in daily tasks with the team, and offering compliments when addressing conflicts. It is essential to note that authentic intentions behind these actions are critical to establish trust and respect among the team.

  • To obtain the team’s respect and collaboration, leaders should exhibit humility. This involves avoiding condescending actions and language, participating in day-to-day tasks with the team, and responding to conflicts by offering genuine compliments.
  • When addressing the team, use language that acknowledges their value and avoid exhibiting superiority through body language. Avoid considering any task beneath you and work alongside the team when performing necessary chores and duties. 
  • When encountering conflict, respond confidently by offering genuine and specific compliments, as this can enhance the team’s trust and respect towards you.

Practice Humility to Make Better Leadership Decisions

Humble leadership can gain the team’s respect and improve receptiveness to their ideas. Being too prideful may lead to pointless arguments and missed opportunities for valuable input. Adopting humility helps leaders be open to advice and make better decisions.

To humbly accept criticism, prepare general responses and recognize that it is not a personal attack. Objectively assessing ideas and selecting the best one, regardless of its origin, strengthens relationships and builds trust.

This article highlights the significance of adopting humility as a leader to gain respect from the team and improve idea reception. It suggests three ways to accept criticism humbly, such as acknowledging feedback from anyone, not being rigid about one’s ideas, and learning from everyday leadership examples. The article emphasizes the importance of being receptive to feedback and continuously learning as a leader to make informed decisions and enhance team cohesion. Additionally, it provides advice on how to prepare for and respond to criticism constructively.

Good Leaders Build Relationships With Their Team

Earning team respect is critical for leaders to build a robust team. Practicing humility helps leaders listen to team ideas and accept criticism.

Building strong relationships is pivotal for team success, as it is based on trust, which can be achieved through empowering team members, regular communication, and honesty. Strong relationships enhance creativity, collaboration, productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.

Empower Your Team to Lead

To build trust and strong relationships with your team, give them the freedom to decide how to accomplish tasks after clearly communicating what needs to be done and why it matters.

Empowering your team to lead not only increases commitment to the mission, but also develops their leadership skills.

Delegating duties also allows you to focus on bigger-picture issues and support the team. However, in urgent or indecisive situations, executive decisions may be necessary.

If you normally give your team the freedom to shape plans, they will trust and follow you even in these situations, according to Willink.

Empower Your Children to Make Decisions

Willink’s advice on giving responsibilities to your team can also be applied to parenting. Allowing children to make decisions helps them develop critical thinking skills, build trusting relationships, and become more resilient.

Parents can teach children that mistakes can be fixed and it’s okay to have mixed feelings about a decision. Encouraging and trusting children’s decision-making abilities will motivate them to trust their parents in return.

A Note About Empowering Your Team to Cultivate Self-Discipline

Willink advises that promoting self-discipline within your team is crucial for maximum effort and success. External discipline may suffice, but it won’t inspire the same level of commitment and effort as self-discipline.

By explaining why their tasks are essential to their personal success and the team’s goals, your team can cultivate self-discipline, leading to more motivation and control over their behavior. While external discipline may still be necessary, the ultimate goal is for the team to adopt self-discipline voluntarily.

The Relationship Between Motivation, Habits, and Self-Discipline

Psychologists suggest that self-discipline is enhanced by both motivation and good habits, and the two may be connected. Intrinsic motivation, which stems from internal enjoyment or interest, is more effective than external motivation based on rewards or punishments for creating successful habits.

Studies have shown that external motivation is short-lived and ineffective, while intrinsic motivation leads to long-lasting success in achieving goals. In weight loss studies, intrinsic motivation and discipline were found to be necessary for long-term success. Similarly to Willink’s theory, it is believed that self-sustaining behavior is developed once an individual finds enjoyment in it.

Communicate Regularly With Your Team

Good communication is crucial for a strong team. Poor communication leads to confusion about roles and mission, decreasing morale and causing the team to fail. Quality communication includes understanding team members’ perspectives and validating their emotions, as well as occasional workshops and cross-training to build team relationships. However, boundaries should be set if negative thoughts or emotions become overwhelming.

Make Your Instructions Simple and Clear

Effective communication is key to building strong team relationships. Poor communication can lead to confusion and decreased morale, ultimately leading to team breakdown. To avoid this, regular and quality communication is necessary. It’s important to understand team members’ perspectives by learning about their roles and responsibilities and asking for feedback on how to improve operations. Communication should be clear and accessible, using various formats.

Tell Your Team the Truth

To maintain strong relationships with your team, it’s important to always be truthful, even if it’s uncomfortable or challenges their beliefs. Concealing negative information can lead to harmful rumors and self-fulfilling prophecies. However, there are cases where transparency may be harmful, such as when it involves personal issues or jeopardizes long-term interests. Address problems promptly and don’t delay delivering bad news.

Organize Your Problems, Then Address Them

Gino Wickman, in Traction, suggests categorizing problems into three lists based on their severity. The first list is for non-urgent issues that can be addressed during quarterly meetings, while the second and third lists are for more urgent strategic and departmental issues that require weekly attention, respectively. This system can help effectively manage and prioritize problems.

Good Leaders Take Responsibility for Their Team’s Problems

Leaders must take “radical responsibility” for any problems within their team instead of blaming others. This motivates the team to find solutions and prevents future issues. Additionally, Willink offers guidance on making effective decisions that lead to solutions.

Benefits of Radical Responsibility

“Radical responsibility” means taking complete ownership of all problems related to your team and mission, accepting responsibility for any issues that arise, and taking proactive measures to prevent future problems. Adopting this mindset allows leaders to effectively solve problems and avoid mistakes.

Can Radical Responsibility Lead to Burnout?

Scott Peck agrees with Willink that taking responsibility for problems leads to solutions, but an excessive sense of responsibility can lead to neurotic behavior and lower quality of life. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck suggests distinguishing between fault and responsibility – fault concerns the uncontrollable past, while responsibility concerns the present.

Taking responsibility sets an inspiring example for your team and is contagious. To encourage a culture of radical responsibility, Built to Last suggests aligning your team with your culture’s values. The most important leadership quality that sets long-lasting companies apart is a long-term vision and concern for organizational culture.

Make Effective Decisions

The next step after taking responsibility for a problem is to detach from emotions and prioritize the issues that need to be addressed in order to make a decision that can solve it.

Detach From the Situation

To solve problems effectively, leaders should detach emotionally and prioritize issues based on their impact on the team’s mission. Physical distancing, deep breathing, and focusing on the big picture can aid detachment. Leaders should delegate tasks and intervene only in issues beyond their team’s capabilities. Techniques such as the “five whys” can be used to understand the root cause of a problem by immersing in details.

Carry Out Difficult Decisions Gradually

When unsure about the best decision, taking small steps based on your best guess can prevent overinvestment in the wrong direction and allow for adjustments. This approach helps to adapt over time, maintain focus on individual goals, and increase predictability for shorter time frames. A retail manager suspecting employee theft could start by asking for closer watch on sections and double-counting drawers.

Good Leaders Are Balanced

Willink emphasizes the importance of balance in leadership across various critical areas. Let’s dive into these areas and understand why balance is necessary for effective team management.

Balance Between Optimism and Realism

Effective leaders maintain a balanced attitude during tough times by avoiding extreme negativity or optimism that can harm morale and credibility. They acknowledge the situation’s reality and focus on finding solutions. According to Stoic philosophy, difficult situations can be viewed as opportunities for growth and discovering hidden solutions.

Balance Between Praise and Criticism

Balancing positive and negative feedback is crucial when providing feedback to your team. Solely praising them can lead to complacency, while only criticizing can demotivate them. Instead, balance your feedback by recognizing their strengths while also providing suggestions for improvement.

Be honest and specific when providing negative feedback, back it up with data, and place it within the context of their overall performance. It’s important to tailor your feedback approach to the individual’s personality and sensitivity.